Brave is a third-person action game based on the animated movie of the same name. It is set in Scotland with the red-haired teenager Merida as the protagonist. She is the daughter of King Fergus of Clan DunBroch and is to be betrothed to one of the allied clans of her father. To get her hand, highland games are organized where the first-born sons of different clans compete. The angry Merida flees into the woods where she meets a witch. She gives Merida a spell in the form of a cake that transforms her mother Elinor into a large bear. The game starts at the moment of the transformation and provides a drawn, animated introduction to the story after a short tutorial section. The other parts of the story leading up to the start of the game are provided in short bits throughout the missions. The goal is to find a way to undo the spell to turn her mother back normal and cure the blight that has affected the forest.
The game is played along a linear path with a dynamic, computer-controlled camera that often changes the perspective from a side view to a behind view. Merida has a certain amount of freedom for movement, but is prevented from wandering off far through the scenery. Levels are unlocked gradually from a central ring of stones that acts as a hub. Merida is able to run around, (wall/double) jump and fight with a sword. For ranged attacks she has access to a bow. Additional abilities are activated by finding charms and tapestries. The earth charm for instance heals plants and affects organisms. This can be used to make plants grow into platforms to proceed. Other charms are fire to ignite objects, and air and ice with similar effects. Minor puzzle elements include shooting targets with the bow or activating stepping stones in the correct order. There are also sections where her triplet brothers, also turned into bears, can be controlled to solve more complex puzzles. In certain arena battle sections Elinor the bear is controlled. She is much stronger than Merida and can swipe, pound the ground and charge, fighting off multiple enemies.
Objects in the scenery can be destroyed to collect coins. They are spent at merchants to purchase additional abilities such as dodging, slam attack, power attack and charged shots. The latter two come in four varieties based on the four elements. Better bows are also found along the way. Some abilities are only unlocked after completing certain parts of the game and certain abilities can be upgraded multiple times. The game can played cooperatively in multiplayer with a second player controlling will o' the wisp. Next to the motion controls for the Wii version, Kinect (Xbox 360) and Move (PS3) are supported to control the bow in an archery range mode.